We've all heard the seatbelt clichés and statistics, all the platitudes and anecdotes. We've all heard dozens of reasons why seatbelts matter, why it's important to buckle up when you hit the road. We all know the laws. We've all seen the videos. But there's one big one that nobody's talking about. There's one more reason you should always wear your seatbelt, in every vehicle you get into, no matter how far the drive, and it has probably never even crossed your mind.
Most people get into my car and buckle up without my ever having to ask, and for that I'm grateful. Some people just hate them--they wrinkle your clothes, they're uncomfortable, they restrict movement, whatever. But my car doesn't roll until everyone in it is buckled in. Some people appreciate it, some people never think about it, and some people really hate it. But it's a fact, and it's not going to change, no matter how much people bitch about it. Why?
Because you're an asshole if you don't wear your seatbelt. You're not only putting yourself at risk in all the litany of ways you already know, but you're putting ME at risk, or whoever your driver is. And I'm not just talking about states where the driver is legally held liable for unbuckled passengers. I'm talking about making me physically and emotionally responsible for your well-being by taking no means to secure it yourself. If something were to happen while I was behind the wheel and you were injured, it would psychologically damage me, long term.
I drive people around a lot, people who don't have licenses of their own, people who need a DD, people who are going the same place I'm going and don't think it makes sense to pay for parking twice, whatever the case may be. My car is always open to good people, just as my life and my apartment are. My record is spotless. I do not drive drunk. The only accident I've ever been in is when someone else rear-ended ME. I am a good, safe, defensive driver.
But knowing all that will not be enough to keep my heart from breaking if something happens to someone I love when I'm behind the wheel. And the worse the damage is to your body, so too will the damage to my heart be proportionately worse.
And the car you're in isn't the only one you have to consider. There are tons of idiot drivers out there, and I won't be able to avoid them all forever. One day, statistically speaking, I will be in an accident. Quite possibly more than one. Every time you get in my car and don't put your seatbelt on, you're not only asking me to bear the burden of responsibility for whatever happens to you--you're taking responsibility for your safety OFF yourself and putting it ON me. Even if you sign a waiver for my legal or fiscal responsibility, I will forever carry scars of being responsible for someone I care about being hurt or killed on my watch.
I don't mind taking that watch. If you're in my car, there's a good chance I know you pretty well, that you're a friend of mine and I have real love for you. I take pride in my driving skills and record and it gives me great confidence to put people I love in the car with me knowing I will get them from A to B in a safe and timely manner. It's a big responsibility, but I don't mind it.
I just ask that you not making it a bigger responsibility than it already is. Do this ONE thing for me, the ONE thing you can do as a passenger in my car to help me keep you from harm. It takes a matter of seconds and adds a constant layer of protection to your well-being that I can't.
Please don't make me live with getting you maimed or killed because you didn't want your t-shirt wrinkled.